The 2019 BMW i3 starts at $44,450, which is a midlevel price among luxury hybrid and electric cars.
There are three other configurations of the i3 that add a more powerful motor and/or a range-extending small gasoline engine called the “Range Extender,” which helps alleviate range anxiety. These variants range from $47,650 to $51,500. A fully loaded i3 tops $59,000.
The BMW i3 debuted in 2014, making it one of the first electric vehicles (EVs) to be offered from a luxury automaker. A lot has changed since then, both in terms of new technology and competitive models, but BMW has maintained the i3 as a top pick for EV shoppers by making constant updates.
For 2019, BMW has endowed its new i3 models with a larger capacity battery that extends the maximum driving range to an EPA-estimated 153 miles on a full charge — a significant jump from last year’s 118-mile range. If you get a 2019 i3 equipped with the gasoline Range Extender generator, like the model I test drove, that figure jumps to 200 miles on a full charge and tank of gas.
Much of the rest of the i3 is the same, which is largely a good thing. Its small size and light weight make it nimble, quick to accelerate and easy to park. It also has one of the more distinctive interiors you’ll find in an EV thanks to its curved dashboard design and varied interior color and material choices.
The 2019 BMW i3 is a four-door hatchback with seating for four passengers that’s available in i3 or i3s trim. All four versions are powered with a 42-kWh battery that provides up to 153 miles of range for the battery version or, as I mentioned, up to 200 miles with the Range Extender.
Base i3 models have an electric motor (170 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque) that drives the rear wheels. It comes well equipped with 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, and Level 3 DC fast-charging capability.
For the i3, BMW offers three main upholstery packages — Mega World, Giga World. and Tera World — that add combinations of leather and wool or full-leather upholstery plus different wheels and interior trim.
For technology, you get Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay (subscription-based), satellite radio, and BMW’s basic Business navigation system with a modest 6.5-inch display screen.
The i3s is the sportier, better-handling version of the i3. Its electric motor cranks out 181 hp and 199 pound-feet of torque, which shortens its 0-60 mph sprint to 6.8 seconds (0.4 second quicker than the base i3). Compared to the i3, the i3s’ ride height sits 0.4 inch lower, and its fenders, 20-inch wheels and performance tires are wider.
Without the need to shift gears, electric vehicles such as the i3 make for utterly smooth acceleration and braking. A high level of natural off-throttle regenerative braking allows for one-pedal driving, which is both efficient, fun and less taxing once you get familiar with it.
Also, I might add, there’s a touch of wind and road noise on the highway but it’s only noticeable because the electric motor is silent, until the gas generator comes on after the battery is depleted.
If you approve of its quirky styling, the BMW i3 is an intriguing choice for an eco-friendly luxury electric car. It boasts spry acceleration, straightforward features, and lots of cargo room.
Grant Miller is the publisher of Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277 or via email at Grant@CommunityNewspapers.com.